EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — The fiancee and friends of a young father who was swept into the Cosumnes River in El Dorado County on May 28 are now desperately trying to recover his body.
“He was just so happy to be a dad and I’m trying to stay strong for our son,” said Brittany Khamsa.
Khamsa held back tears Friday as she described her fiance, 20-year-old Gabriel Saechao, a father to her now 1-month-old son.
“To come home to our son without his dad, it hurts a lot,” Khamsa told FOX40.
Khamsa, Saechao and a few friends were out by the Cosumnes River near Happy Valley Cutoff Road.
“It was just us, Tim and Gabriel and only separate people were Austin and Evan,” Khamsa explained.
She said one of the men in the group was swept under the water.
“Tim tries to swim back to the group from the waterfall and apparently he got swept by the current and got sucked into the hole,” recalled witness Ethan Cai.
That’s when the group said they all ran toward the waterfall to try to help.
“Me, Evan and Austin form a human chain and then Evan goes down to reach and but I guess somebody’s grip slipped,” Cai said. “Not sure what happened because I was trying to secure my own grip and Evan fell in too.”
Desperately trying to save the two men, Khamsa said Saechao heard the screams and immediately jumped into the water.
“Gabriel went directly to the hole where everyone was looking at and all he thought was to help out,” said witness Brandon Sen.
“We didn’t get to him in time and then he fell all the way in,” said Saechao’s friend Phoukham Vorabouth.
Saechao never resurfaced.
The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office confirms they did recover the body of one of the men but say the bodies of the two other men have not been found.
Now, Khamsa is praying Saechao’s body is recovered so the family can say their final goodbyes.
“It hurts and the only thing I will be able to tell my son is that he was a hero. He tried his best,” she said.
A spokesperson with the sheriff’s office says they are still waiting on positive identification and contacting next of kin before releasing the victims’ names.
The family has started a GoFundMe page for Saechao’s funeral expenses. Click or tap here to access it.